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Council gets housing update

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During their Monday night meeting, which was moved back a week due to the mandated power outage in last week’s wind storm, the Chadron City Council approved the community housing study prepared by Hanna:Keelan Associates, P.C. and presented by High Plains community Development Director Autumn Calkins.

The study shows the target demands the City should meet in the next five years. These included 36 elderly housing units, 17 off-campus unit and 61 family units. The housing unit target demand, Calkins explained, includes new construction as well as purchased rehab, re-sell or re-rent.

An estimated minimum 22 acres are required for new construction, and 55 acres need to be designated for future residential land use choices.

Estimated downtown housing unit demand is 10 units, and the estimated work force housing unit demand is 58 units — 25 owned and 33 rentals.

Calkins noted High Plains Community Development has built five new homes in four years, three of which are sold. In December, another two are set to be put on foundations and she hopes they will be sold in January or February.

It was pointed out these homes are income-limited, and the limits change each year.

Northwest Nebraska Development Corporation Executive Director Deb Cottier added the Legislature has created a fund for capitalization of the Rural Workforce Housing Development Fund. Within the guidelines of this, she said, the land has to be owned by the city, and in a plan to be utilized for rural workforce housing.

It was further explained that rural workforce does not mean agriculture workers. Cottier said rural workforce housing is that which is available on a fair market rate and designed for people who are working in the community. She further added she’s heard from businesses that people they want won’t come here because they can’t find a place to live, and the new fund could help with that. However, the City is limited in that it cannot charge more than $325,000 for a house — infrastructure and land included.

In other action, council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Chadron Public Library Board and the Chadron Public Library Foundation in regard to fundraising efforts for the library’s renovation and expansion.

Foundation Acting President Ann Sundberg expressed her appreciation to the city, and to Library Board Representative Drew Petersen for their work on the MOU. Petersen pointed out there are certain elements that have to go through the City, and the MOU requests the City provide support when it’s needed. The fundraising effort is solely the responsibility of the Foundation, he added, but they would like the City to be behind them and the memorandum helps cement that.

Sundberg commended the library staff for having the activities they do in the current cramped space and the expansion will provide more room for activities and books.

A support service provider agreement with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for transportation services through the city transit program.

Transit Director Julie Lawrenceexplained this is an agreement to provide transportation to low-income residents of Crest View Care Center. The DHHS will pay for riders they feel qualify, she said, allowing them the ability to run errands.

The first reading was approved, for an ordinance that would create a clean energy assessment district. The ordinance encourages energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems in commercial properties. The second reading and discussion will be at the Council’s Nov. 21 meeting.

An interim city manager employment contract for Tom Menke was approved. Under the contact, the salary is based on a rate of $48 per hour, not to exceed an annual salary of $99,840. As Menke is also the Utilities Superintendent, a stipulation of the contract is that he would not lose his annual leave entitlement due to the increase in his workload.

The intersection of Third and Main will be temporarily closed, from 5-7 p.m., on Thursday, Dec. 1 for the annual parade of Lights following the downtown tree lighting ceremony.

Two project payments were approved, one to Buettner in the amount of $114,319 for the water main replacement in the 400 block of North Mears. The second payment was $30,209.90 to Fuller Construction for reconstruction of the existing wildlife fence at Chadron Municipal Airport.

Zoning/Building Official Janet Johnson the fence reconstruction is much further along than the pay estimate reflects. The fence is about two-thirds complete with poles in the ground. The fencing that goes into the ground four feet cannot be done due to the dry conditions. It’s hoped the winter moisture makes that fence easier to install in the spring.

A large list of property was declared surplus and will be auctioned off on Friday, Dec. 2, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the City Street Department, 1013 East Niobrara. The property includes several vehicles, excess computer equipment, tires, lawn mowers, office equipment and bicycles. It was suggested that some of the bikes could be simply given to kids who need them.

Also at the meeting, Kimzi Zuver was recognized for nearly 12 years of working for the City. She submitted her resignation earlier this year.

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